After 35 years, Roman Totenberg’s stolen Stradivarius is found and returned

Posted on: August 6, 2015

“The denouement of a 35-year-drama takes place Thursday at the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. And I trust that my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, who died three years ago, will be watching from somewhere,” reports Nina Totenberg on Thursday (8/6) at NPR. “For decades he played his beloved Stradivarius violin all over the world. And then one day, he turned around and it was gone. Stolen … from his office at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass.… It was a crushing loss for my father…. Then, on the last day in June, I got a call from FBI Special Agent Christopher McKeogh. ‘We believe that the FBI has recovered your father’s stolen violin,’ he said…. My father had always suspected who had stolen the violin—a young aspiring violinist named Phillip Johnson.” Johnson died in 2011, and in 2015, “Johnson’s ex-wife and her boyfriend [were] cleaning house and [came] across a locked violin case…. They broke the lock and opened the case” and found the violin. Though it had not been properly maintained, “It’s a real miracle that it didn’t take any major hits or cracks or anything of that nature,” says appraiser Phillip Injeian. The ceremony turning the violin over to sisters Nina, Jill, and Amy Totenberg takes place on Thursday.

Posted August 6, 2015

Pictured: Roman Totenberg performs with the Stradivarius in the 1950s. Photo courtesy of the Totenberg family